U.S. News

Some Brokerage Websites Slowed As Volumes Surged

Tara Siegel Bernard

If you were trying to access your online brokerage account during Tuesday’s market nosedive – or even earlier today - you may have encountered some trouble.

As investors flooded the various online brokerage websites to assess the carnage, some experienced major delays in gaining entry into their accounts, obtaining quotes, and launching web pages in general. In some cases, it took two to eight times as long to complete the steps before executing a trade, according to Gomez Inc., a software vendor that assesses website performance for companies.

“Members of the old guard, such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Vanguard didn’t hold up as well as E*Trade and TD Ameritrade, who fared significantly better,” said Matt Poepsel, vice president of performance strategy at Gomez, which is based in Lexington, Mass.

The so-called old guard continued to experience some slowdowns on Wednesday due to residual demand and volume, he added.

"The models of the online brokers have become more sophisticated," Richard Repetto, a brokerage analyst at Sandler O'Neill, told CNBC's Jim Goldman. This "doesn't shake my confidence at all. You're going to see issues when with a market that's going down by 400 points in one day, unfortunately."

By about midday on Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost about 200 points given a massive sell-off in the Chinese stock market. However, by about 3 pm, a computer glitch caused the Dow to plunge another 200 points, for a head-turning loss of as much as 546 points -- its worst single-session decline in more than five years.

Vanguard said it had experienced increased volume yesterday, but a regularly scheduled maintenance that occurred during the spike in volume caused the website to slow down. “We stopped the maintenance on the servers and then added additional capacity for our clients,” a Vanguard spokesman said. “We were able to process all trades in a timely manner.”

A Fidelity spokesman said they experienced heavy trading volumes on Tuesday; there was some slowness online near the market close, but trades could still be executed through phone representatives. He declined to comment on any slowness encountered on Wednesday. Spokespeople from Bank of America and Wells Fargo could not immediately be reached.

Charles Schwab said it experienced delays in the hour before the market closed on Tuesday, but added more "system capacity" and left it in place to avoid any slowness on Wednesday.